***WARNING: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS***
Last January, Boom! Studios kicked off a reboot comic series of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. The series followed the original story told by the '90s hit television show but changes some crucial elements - specifically, it's a Green Ranger-centric story. Starting with Issue #0, it's very clear that Tommy, his developing relationship with both the Green Power Coin and the other Rangers, and his conflicted past with Rita Repulsa will be the driving force behind this series.
With this reboot, Boom! Studios wanted to introduce a brand new Ranger into permanent MMPR canon and tasked writer Kyle Higgins to develop the story arc to make that happen. Having previously worked on the comic reboots of Nightwing and Deathstroke for DC's New 52 lineup, as well as, the excellent Batman: Gates of Gotham issue, Higgins is no stranger to retooling characters in new and interesting ways.
For this new Power Rangers series, Higgins worked alongside artists Hendry Prasetya (Green Lantern: New Guardians) and Daniel Bayliss (Big Trouble in Little China), with co-writers Steve Orlando (Midnighter) and Mairghread Scott (Transformers Prime: Rage of the Dinobots) providing input as well. As the series moved forward, a deadly new force appeared, The Black Dragon, who was being controlled by an unknown being - his power rivaling that of Rita's. The Power Rangers, along with the Green Ranger, have to figure out a way to work together in order to defeat this new foe.
While the name of this powerful new Ranger, Lord Drakkon, was revealed last issue, this week Boom! Studios revealed his identity to the Rangers (and readers). We had the chance to talk to writer Kyle Higgins about that unveiling and his general thoughts on the series as a whole.
The series picks up with Tommy learning to fit in and find his place among the rest of the Rangers, which, in many aspects, mirrors the story from original show. How important was adding that conflict to opening few issues to your overall story arc?
I was looking for a way into the series, but I knew I didn't want to tell new origin stories. Power Rangers, to me, has always been about the value of friendship and teamwork. So, looking at the Rangers through the lens of a new-- former evil-- Ranger joining their ranks felt like a really interesting way in. On the show, the Rangers break Rita's spell and Tommy joins the team as a full-fledged Ranger by the start of the next episode. I felt like there was an opportunity to explore some of the themes that interest me most about Power Rangers in a new way by really taking our time and mining the drama of Tommy trying to figure out what the heck he's gotten himself into.
Did you conceive this story as a way introducing a new Ranger to canon, or did it "morph" it along the way based on how you were developing the characters and story?
It morphed a bit. The idea was always to build Tommy's initial arc to culminate with being transported to a dark timeline where he never left Rita's side. As I fleshed out more of what became Lord Drakkon's backstory, creating a whole new Ranger felt like the right move. And, come on, who doesn't want to create a new Power Ranger?
There are several flashbacks in this series that really help complete the story. Multiple issues are dedicated just to providing backstory on the Green Ranger, the Black Ranger, and the Blue Ranger. Do you plan on adding similar issues down the line for the remaining Rangers and possibly even Zordon, Alpha-5 and Rita?
I do, yeah. Those one shots serve a couple purposes, really. First, they give Hendry a much needed break so that we're not constantly having to fill in the end of a story arc with a different artist. By structuring things for four and five issue arcs, with a one shot in between, we're able to keep a more sustainable schedule for everyone. Second, and most important of all, I've got a ton of characters to juggle. Using the one shots to recontextualize a Ranger and whatever struggles they're going through helps to plant the seeds of what their arcs are going to be in the next several issues.
The Black Dragon and The Vitruvian Man from issue #5 are, to-date, two of the most interesting monsters in Ranger lore. I'm sure readers would love to see more of those going forward. Are there plans to introduce more monsters of that nature?
Ha thanks. Yeah, definitely. Building interesting villains is always a challenge, but with the resources someone like Rita has, the sky's pretty much the limit. I find I really have to go wild in order to best take advantage of what we're able to do that the show couldn't.
The Black Dragon was one of the most fearsome foes the Rangers have battled in recent memory. Taking a line from issue #10, "When grand trials arise, they [heroes] can rise to the occasion...", the Rangers certainly had a grand trial to face with Black Dragon. Now that Lord Drakkon has been revealed as the person pulling the strings, should we expect to see more intense monsters like The Black Dragon to show up?
Just before the true identity of Lord Drakkon was revealed, you introduced Saba, the talking sword. Do you plan on taking a few issues to fully realize Tommy as the White Ranger or should readers expect an interesting twist on that tale?
Well, I don't want to give anything away here, but I wouldn't necessarily assume that Tommy will just become the White Ranger. We've got a lot of story to tell, and personally, I'm more a fan of Green...
Besides giving Tommy the Green Rangers' power, in issue #0 you make it clear that Rita Repulsa has a long relationship with the Green Power Coin. Based on what you've seen of the upcoming movie, do you think the screenwriters took the same angle with their concept of Rita?
You know, I haven't seen very much from the movie so I really don't know what they're doing. But I'm excited to check it out in March!
As most fans of the show are aware, Tommy Oliver eventually becomes the White Ranger using Saba, the talking sword. So it's interesting to hear that, since Higgins is a Green Ranger fan, Tommy may not reach White Ranger status in this reboot. Could that privilege fall to one of the other rangers, or might a new outside member be introduced to the squad? No doubt, the ongoing series will eventually address these questions.
The new Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comic series is quite an interesting read and worth checking out for those interested in the off-screen exploits of their favorite Rangers.